A little taste of racing adrenaline to get you excited for a blazin' 38min 10k RA, and our other racers.Lake Wissota
So yesterday was my final race of the XC season. I knew I wouldn't be running mid-27s to make the Conference team, and even if I did, I didn't think it would be fair to others based on how inconsistent I have been with my races as of late. This left absolutely no pressure on me, and I think this is the mindset I need to get into when I race. I felt the exact same way before my sectional 3200m race this spring when I seemed to be outclassed by the field in front of me, but just decided to f*** it and go with however I felt, even if it was something I hadn't done before.
Well the day was actually really good for racing, even if it was sort of gloomy and chilly...probably low 50s/upper 40s and heavy cloud cover. Luckily it didn't rain, but the course had some moisture on it in the grassy areas. This was definitely my kind of course too...no golf-course pancake-flat thing here...although it was pretty flat, this wound around through fields and woods. I always had my best races on courses like this in high school so I was excited. I was very calm with no expectation of anything in particular on me today by anyone, but I knew it would be beneficial to end the season well, so I prepared to go the depths to finish strong. The race started off and I had to watch myself in traffic on the narrow trail with the 50 or so other runners, all the while watching out for roots or rocks. I made it through alive and soon the field began to spread out. 5:37 at the mile and I felt quite comfortable. I was still around a lot of my teammates, so I worked on reeling them in and pulling them with me. I'm not quite sure where I was around 2 miles, but I didn't slow down much since I was at 17:40 at 5k, and I'm pretty sure that's a PR
in the 5k from high school to now.
My average pace was at ~5:41 so I was maintaining well, but I was starting to feel it. I continuously shook out my arms to keep them loose to prevent another situation like Oshkosh where they tightened up, and when I felt like I was working hard, I would slightly ease up. Maybe by only a few seconds pace-wise, but it felt much easier on the mind. I would work my way up to the runner in front of me, and then chill for a while with them before recollecting my drive and pushining onward again. The last part of the race was hard to do that since one of my teammates roared by me and I couldn't increase my pace so drastically, but I saw another teammate of mine about 30m ahead of me and I worked on reeling him in. From there I tried to put a little forward lean and increased arm drive to increase my speed and it worked to a degree. We came down the downhill twisty trail that left about 800m to go, and I worked every hill with what I had left and when we emptied out into the field for the finish I tried to stay with nice and relaxed form and stride my way to the finish. I ended up about 3 or 4 seconds behind the UWRF guy in front of me, and I believe I finished somewhere around 28:35. For once I believe I raced how I should have....I also was finally not last on the team. I know I shouldn't compare myself to the other runners, but when it's on a team things are so much more competitive and it's a bit discouraging to be in last for more than just a meet or so.
I thought about my progress over this summer and believe that I have a lot more to go improvement wise. I ran a 28:53 5 mile road race this spring, so I had a bit higher hopes for my PR
in XC, but it's commonly said you slow about 6-12 seconds a mile when not on the road or track, so I can definitely see that as being more than a 20-something second improvement over the course of 7 months. Also, I've finally been consistent at decent mileage...this summer I was up around 50mpw for a few weeks, which was unheard of before, and I've probably been around 40 or so all season. This winter I'm planning on 60 or so a week and lots more lifting and supplemental exercises to keep my plaguing injuries and imbalances from affecting me in negative ways. Also I'm hoping I'll be able to utilize a bit tougher, less conservative mindset in thse track races, and all upcoming races. I believe that is one of the things that hurt me the most up to this point, always worrying about how bad I feel and if I'll have enough left. I'm not saying I won't listen to my body, but I definitely plan on going with the flow more and realizing I should end up with nothing left after a good race.
Sorry for wasting half your weekend, but I am so excited and proud of myself right now. I'm glad I didn't get discouraged after a season of bad racing. Another note...when people say don't worry about it, it'll all click on someday day, they are right. I thought I would go through this season without a good race to my name, but then I realized what Mike said. I've worked to hard to past few weeks, motnhs, and years not to have a good race. Yesterday everything in no way came all together, but it was a drast improvement over past experiences and it left as a good starting point for the rest of my career.
Now time to be a bum for a week.